Stevens’ 3s help OC hold off Panhandle State rally, win 62-56

Krista Stevens hit a pair of 3-pointers late in the game to help OC hold off a rally by Oklahoma Panhandle State.
Krista Stevens hit a pair of 3-pointers late in the game to help OC hold off a rally by Oklahoma Panhandle State.

GOODWELL, Okla. (Nov. 29, 2012) – Krista Stevens hit a pair of 3-pointers about 30 seconds apart in the final minutes, allowing Oklahoma Christian to hold off a rally by Oklahoma Panhandle State and win 62-56 on Thursday at Oscar Williams Field House.

The win, which came in OC’s first-ever game as a Heartland Conference member against a league foe, snapped a three-game losing streak for the Lady Eagles. It also came at the front end of a challenging road trip for OC (4-3) that will include three games in three days.

“It was kind of a wild game,” OC coach Stephanie Findley said. “I’m just glad we were able to hang on there at the end and make some free throws.”

Katy O’Steen had 17 points while Stevens and Roz Hamilton each chipped in 11 points – Hamilton’s all coming after halftime – allowing OC to overcome 29 turnovers. Panhandle State (2-6) committed 31 turnovers.

OC never trailed. The Lady Eagles jumped to an 11-0 lead in the first 3:08 and led the Aggies by as many as 13 points before settling for a 32-26 halftime lead.

Findley opted to use a more traditional half-court style instead of the Lady Eagles’ usual full-court, up-tempo system in the second half due to foul trouble and the move eventually paid off. OC led 51-40 after a basket by Logan McKee with 11:11 left.

The Aggies scored the next eight points and trailed only 51-48 after a 3-pointer by Sarah Johnson with 6:42 left. But Stevens answered with a 3-pointer of her own with 6:09 left, and after a Panhandle State turnover, she hit another 3-pointer with 5:36 left to extend OC’s advantage to 57-48.

A 3-pointer and a 2-pointer by Whitley Coca pulled the Aggies within 60-56 with 1:05 left, but Kaitlyn Morris and Stevens each went 1-of-2 from the free-throw line in the final minute to seal the win for the Lady Eagles.

“I thought Roz and Katy O were rocks for us tonight inside,” Findley said. “I thought this was a game we could win, we needed to win. We pared it down in the second half with our rotation to try and keep the people we felt that were having a good game in the game for that whole half.”

Coca finished with 17 points and seven assists for Panhandle State, while Sharice Papaleo had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

OC shot 38.2 percent (21 of 55) from the field, an improvement from the Lady Eagles’ effort in a 24-point loss to Lubbock Christian (Texas) on Tuesday.

“Some of these gyms we’ve played in this year, I’m telling you, we’ve got to turn some of the lights out in the gym in practice, because these gyms are so dark,” Findley said. “We’re going to have to get used it, I guess. I was glad to see it didn’t affect us.”

OC will visit NAIA No. 1-ranked Lubbock Christian on Friday night before returning to Heartland Conference play on Saturday afternoon at Texas-Permian Basin.